Misty Triumphs in Swan Lake Fouettés Be Damned
Her Odette was spellbinding: classically elegant with a velvety quality of slowness. Her Odile was direct and strong, reveling in her power over Siegfried.
Throughout yesterday’s matinee of American Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake, Misty Copeland’s full-body lines were exquisite, her flawless balance allowing you to see those lines. Odette’s softly elongated arms morphed into dangerous slicing instruments for Odile. Copeland’s every intention was legible, whether explaining her predicament to Siegfried or protecting him from von Rothbart.
This was a breakthrough role for Copeland. I’ve seen her be super flirty as the Flower Girl in Gaité Parisienne and joyfully abandoned as Mercedes in Don Q. I’ve seen her fighting spirit as the lead warrior in Fokine’s Polovtsian Dances, and her inner fire as the Firebird. I’ve seen her vibrancy in Balanchine’s Duo Concertant and Tharp’s Highland Fling. But I’ve never seen her in a role that requires softness and vulnerability.
So it was a pleasant surprise to see how she mastered the poignancy of Odette. Her head and neck were beautifully expressive, and she took comfort in her closeness to Prince Siegfried (danced with ardor by James Whiteside). Her timing was magnificent in both gestures and technical moves. You could feel the pull between fear and hope, sorrow and romance. Not surprisingly, I learned that she was coached by Irina Kolpokova, a Dance Magazine awardee in 2010.
Misty's Odile was definitely a seductress, tempting Siegfried but colluding with Rothbart. Occasionally I felt her moves were a bit too sharp with little follow-through. Although her supported turns were exquisitely controlled, her fouettés in the coda started drifting stage right and she had to finish with turns in fifth. Some die-hard ballet fans might object, but I’ve heard that even Margot Fonteyn had trouble staying in one spot during fouettés. Anyway, Copeland’s double portrayal revealed such artistry that I didn’t mind the flubbed fouettés. And besides, by switching to turns in fifth, she kept the energy up. Good save, Misty!
The audience at the Met, which was more racially integrated than I’d ever seen it, was stoked. They applauded not only for her first entrance, but for almost every subsequent entrance. In the quiet parts their attentiveness was palpable. At the end, the whoops and hollers were much louder than is usual at matinees.
With an awareness of history being made, ABT had arranged for two special women to greet the new Odette/Odile during the final bows. Lauren Anderson, former star of Houston Ballet and possibly the only other African American to dance the complete Odette/Odile role, gave her flowers and a hug. She was followed by Raven Wilkinson, the only African American dancer with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Wilkinson seemed to mime part of the ballet as she edged back into the wings. (For more on the history of blacks in ballet, see Theresa Ruth Howard’s posting on the subject.)
A recent memory: When Wilkinson presented Misty with a Dance Magazine Award last December, she called Misty a “crescent moon” and said, “She steps out onstage and you know something beautiful will happen.”
And yesterday, something beautiful—and historic—did happen. I’m glad I was there to witness it.
Booking a gig on a cruise ship can feel like you're diving into the unknown—dropping everything to live in the middle of the ocean without family, friends or cell service. But cruise jobs can also offer incredible rewards, like traveling the world for free and delving into a new style.
Is ship life the right fit for you? Here are some elements to consider.
We knew that New York downtown dance darling Okwui Okpokwasili was a big deal. Critics and audiences have been raving about her dance-theater works for years, and the new documentary about her, Bronx Gothic, has attracted the attention of the larger arts community.
But never in our wildest dreams did we imagine she'd show up in a Jay Z video, along with flex dancer Storyboard P. Though we're slightly less surprised to see Storyboard in Jay Z's "4:44" video than we were to see Okpokwasili, we're jazzed that two of our favorites are featured on such a huge platform. (We're also feeling #blessed that we didn't have to subscribe to Tidal to watch this.)
Throughout the years, choreographer Seán Curran has worked with a diverse array of talented collaborators—from Kyrgyz music ensemble Ustatshakirt Plus to the the Grammy Award–winning King's Singers. But perhaps none are as meaningful as his most recent group of co-choreographers: At-risk teens from the after school program and nonprofit The Wooden Floor.
Curran has been in residence with The Wooden Floor since June, where he's worked with students to build choreography based on their lives and communities:
Their creation will be shown July 20-22 at The Wooden Floor Studio Theatre in Santa Ana, California.
"Besides the stage, baking is my other happy place," says New York City Ballet corps member Jenelle Manzi.
Four years ago, she thought her baking days were over when she was diagnosed with gluten intolerance. Manzi had been dealing with pain, frequent illness and joint inflammation for nearly 10 years. Once she cut out gluten, Manzi gradually started to feel better, noticing a transformation in how her body felt and functioned. She found her joints were less inflamed, and she got sick less often.
New York City Ballet soloist Unity Phelan and American Ballet Theatre soloist Cassandra Trenary spend every day making their hard work look effortless and graceful both in the studio and onstage. That's exactly what makes them the perfect spokesmodels for the dance-inspired activewear line, Belle Force.
To celebrate our 90th anniversary, we excavated some of our favorite hidden gems from the DM Archives—images that capture a few of the moments in time we've documented over the decades.
This image was captured during a 1978 New York City Ballet tour that took the company to Copenhagen—home turf for Adam Luders (right), who trained at the Royal Danish Ballet School and briefly danced with the company before joining NYCB as a principal dancer in 1975. Next to Luders is (of course) George Balanchine, in conversation with ballerina Suzanne Farrell. And looking on with a smile? NYCB's current ballet master in chief Peter Martins.
On March 8, 2016, Rami Shafi found himself inspired to film an impromptu dance video of his best friend, Aaron Moses Robin, improvising on Gay St. in New York City's Greenwich Village. Thus was born Pedestrian Wanderlust, a collection of dance videos that has grown to include a monthly improv jam.
Shafi works with anyone who wants to take part in the project, filming videos in locations chosen by the dancers and later adding music. The videos are shot on Shafi's iPhone in one take and, other than the starting and ending points, are entirely improvised. The editing afterwards—including the music choice—is minimal. "I don't like to edit too much. It's just what it is," says Shafi. "I usually can do the editing on the train ride home."